Pioneering Wind Energy Trial on the Aran Islands

24 households on the Aran Islands are participating in a pilot project to demonstrate the smart grid technologies needed to transfer and store wind energy in electric vehicles. Eight electric vehicles have been delivered to homes as part of a project coordinated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The vehicles will be rolled out to an initial eight households for one year, with a further eight households selected for participation in 2012 and again in 2013, under a three year programme looking at the potential for wind energy to power electric cars and to reduce reliance on imported fuels on the islands.

Each household has been fitted with an innovative smart charger unit which can be accessed remotely to allow matching of available wind power with vehicle charging requirements.

The project will aim to show a significant potential for electric vehicles charged by wind energy to meet the transport requirements under the difficult access conditions of an island environment. It will assess the efficiency, reliability and maintainability of the vehicles and the potential for locally generated wind power to supply the electricity requirements for the vehicles.

“Ireland has the twin goals of replacing 10% of its passenger vehicles with electric vehicles by 2020 and of exploiting our availability of renewable energy resources, in particular wind. Under Government plans to put 6,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2012, a grant of €5,000 is now available for the purchase of electric vehicles. This project on the Aran Islands is a significant step, and is among the first initiatives worldwide to demonstrate the potential for electric vehicles fuelled by wind energy,” comments Professor Owen Lewis, chief executive of SEAI. “We are most encouraged by the positive reception to the project to date. Aran is a particularly useful test-bed as the islands have an abundance of wind power and mainly domestic consumers.”

Participants were selected following on open competition and an electrical survey of applicant properties in 2010. Following a public procurement process, the vehicles have been supplied by GreenMachines, and Merrion Fleet Management was selected to provide full maintenance and support services for the duration of the trial. Another Irish company, Klockner Moeller, developed the smart charging units to meet SEAI’s technical requirements.

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